A squirrel in Colorado tested positive for plague, according to state officials.
The animal was found to have the illness in El Paso County last week, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and officials said they wanted to remind residents “that it’s not uncommon for plague to be present this time of year.”
“Simple precautions can keep the risk of transmission to humans very low,” said a news release from the agency.
Cases of the plague have previously been reported among Colorado’s wild rodents, particularly during the summer months.
“Plague has been present in Colorado since at least the 1940s, and cases in wild rodents in the state are reported most years,” Dr. Jennifer House, state public health veterinarian, said in the statement. “While we see most plague activity during the summer, the disease can be found in rodents year-round and sometimes spills over into other wildlife species as well as domestic cats and dogs.”
Last summer, animals in Adams, Broomfield, and Jefferson counties tested positive for plague.
“So, basically, a citizen reported it and said that they had seen other dead squirrels in the area over the last couple of weeks, and that’s why our department ended up working to test the squirrel,” Ashley Sever, public affairs manager at Jefferson County Public Health, told the Washington Examiner in July after another squirrel tested positive.
“Humans may be infected with plague through bites from infected fleas, by the cough from an infected animal, or by direct contact (e.g., through a bite) with blood or tissues of infected animals,” the county warned in an advisory at the time, adding, “Pet owners who suspect their pets are ill should consult a veterinarian. All pet owners who live close to wild animal populations, such as prairie dog colonies or other known wildlife habitats, should consult their veterinarian about flea control for their pets to help prevent the transfer of fleas to humans.”
Author : Haley Victory Smith